The other day, Valve announced layoffs within the company of about thirteen people. Rumors began swirling about why and what this could possibly affect, but the common sentiment was that Valve was eliminating hardware jobs as it pulled back from items like the Steam Link. it appears now that the layoffs may have involved the Artifact team and seem to have taken aim at the top.
The outlet Artibuff, an Artifact fan site dedicated to helping people learn about the game and how to play it, contacted Richard Garfield after suspicions that he may have been let go. Garfield created Magic: The Gathering, Netrunner, Battletech, and more, so his name being attached to Valve’s new card game was a crucial piece of their marketing. As a contract employee, however, he confirmed that his job did not survive the layoffs at Valve.
“We weren’t surprised by the layoff considering how rocky the launch was, the team was enthusiastic about the game and were confident that they had a good product but it became clear it wasn’t going to be easy to get the game to where we wanted it,” Garfield told Artibuff.
While the site goes on to speculate that this is a lot of bad news for the game, Garfield himself seems pretty optimistic about the future, and has seemingly even volunteered to keep advising the team as a free courtesy because he and the others who were laid off are emotionally invested in its success.
Artifact has failed to catch on in the way Valve likely hoped it would, rarely if ever cracking the top 100 concurrent player counts on Steam. At the moment, the game has 74 viewers on Twitch, in comparison to Hearthstone’s 18,000 or Apex Legends’ 92,000. Valve might be cutting their losses on the project, but it is hard to say, as the traditionally tight-lipped company never really comments on the speculative state of what is and isn’t happening.